Friday Fast Facts – Colorado v. No. 15 USC


Getting to Know … USC

What a difference a year makes.

Last October 8th, Colorado ventured into the Los Angeles Coliseum to face a USC squad with a 2-3 record. The Trojans losses were all to ranked teams – No. 1 Alabama; No. 7 Stanford; and No. 24 Utah – but the slow start was enough that USC head coach Clay Helton was listed No. 1 in the Coaches Hot Seat national rankings.

The Buffs had their chances that day, but the Trojans would go on to post a 21-17 victory over Colorado, in what would turn out to be the second of nine straight wins for the Trojans. USC capped a 10-3 2016 season with a 52-49 victory over No. 5 Penn State in the Rose Bowl, finishing No. 3 in the final polls.

A major catalyst for USC’s resurrection last fall was freshman quarterback Sam Darnold, who was inserted into the lineup the week before the CU game (so Arizona State gets the blame for Darnold, not CU … it’s bad enough that the Buffs have to live with unleashing Arizona’s Kahlil Tate upon the Pac-12).

Darnold may or may not opt to turn pro after this season. He may or may not be the No. 1 quarterback taken in the 2018 NFL draft.

We do know that the CU defense will have its hands full with the USC offense on Saturday (2:00 p.m., MT, Fox).

— Despite USC’s 8-2 record and No. 15 national ranking, the Trojans are ranked 100th or worse nationally in at least seven categories, including: penalties per game (107th; 7.5); turnovers lost (123rd; 21); and red zone scoring percentage offense (116th; 73.8%);

— Colorado, meanwhile, is 100th or worse in three significant categories: rushing defense (103rd; 199.3 ypg.); total defense (102nd; 439.4 ypg.); and quarterback sacks allowed (113th; 3.1 per game).


USC players to watch:

— Sam Darnold, QB … In just over a year as a starter, the sophomore is already eighth on USC’s career passing list (468 completions) and seven on its all-time total offense chart (6,263 yards). Darnold is 17-3 as a starter, and has thrown for over 300 yards in nine of those 20 contests, and has thrown at least three touchdowns in ten games. CU’s (and ESPN’s) Chris Fowler on Darnold: “Some people are born to do things, right? Some people are put on this earth to do one thing. Sam Darnold is a born quarterback”;

Ronald Jones II, RB … Last week, CU running back Phillip Lindsay became the first CU running back in school history to rush for over 1,000 yards in consecutive seasons. This fall, junior Ronald Jones II became the seventh in a storied line of Trojan running backs to accomplish that feat. Jones has 1,082 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns this fall, and a very impressive 6.8 yards per carry average. Jones is ninth on the all-time list of rushers in USC history … and five of the eight running backs on the list in front of him went on to win the Heisman trophy (Trivia question: Can you name the five? Answer below);

— Deontay Burnett, WR … The junior has gone a long ways toward making people forget that JuJu Smith-Schuster left early for the NFL. Burnett has 63 receptions for 832 yards, and is 10th in the nation with eight receiving touchdowns.


Colorado and USC – historical

Colorado enjoys a certain amount of national historical credibility, and stacks up well against most teams in the Pac-12 in historical statistics.

Against USC? Not so much.

In the 12 categories cataloged by Winsipedia, the Buffs lead the Trojans in exactly … none of them.

Some of USC’s impressive national rankings:

— 1st in NFL draft picks, with 502 (CU is 22nd, with 270);

— 6th in weeks spent in the AP poll, with 759 (CU is 26th, with 302);

— 3rd in consensus All-Americans, with 81 (CU is 20th, with 31);

— 4th in conference championships, with 38 (CU is 10th, with 26).

The Trojans also have 831 all-time wins, 10 national championships (USC actually claims 11), seven Heisman trophy winners (one vacated), and 5 No. 1 overall NFL draft picks.


Colorado and USC …  head-to-head

Unless you have been ignoring all news stories about this weekend’s game, you are all-too familiar with the fact that Colorado is 0-11 all-time against USC.

The series dates back to 1927, when the Buffs made a November trip to Southern California, only to head home with a 46-7 defeat.

The next time the two teams played, it was 1963, and the Buffs faced off against a Trojan team ranked No. 1 in the country. In Eddie Crowder’s first game as CU’s head coach, the Buffs played well, but the Trojans escaped with a 14-0 victory.

As members of the Pac-12, the Buffs are 0-6 against the Trojans, and, until the 2015 game in Boulder, the series wasn’t particularly close. The average score of the first four games was 48-20, with USC nationally ranked for each game.

Last season, with the Trojans unranked for the first time against the Buffs (there were no national rankings in 1927), USC escaped, 27-24, in a game which the Buffs led in the second quarter, 17-3 (before Sefo Liufau was injured).


Colorado and USC … Notes and Numbers

— One of the assistant coaches for USC is Ronnie Bradford, who coaches the secondary for the Trojans. Astute Buff fans will remember this name well, as Bradford is a name worth remembering. Bradford played for the Buffs from 1989-92, earning All-Big Eight honors his senior year. He is most remembered, though, as the player who blocked the Notre Dame extra point in the 1991 Orange Bowl. Bradford’s effort turned out to be the difference in a 10-9 victory for the Buffs, securing their first national championship;

— USC is the only school to ever open a series with a 11-0 record against Colorado. In fact, only three other schools –  Missouri (10; 1938-50), Oklahoma (12; 1977-88); and Nebraska (18; 1968-85) – have ever at any time in the series strung together ten or more consecutive wins over Colorado;

— In running up an 11-0 record against Colorado, USC has out-scored CU, 381-145, or an average score of 34-13;

— Stats which could decide the game:  USC is 14th in the nation in total offense (492.4 yards per game), while Colorado is 102nd in total defense (439.4 yards per game) … USC is 7th in the nation in sacks (3.4 per game), while Colorado is 113th in the nation in surrendering sacks (3.1 per game). If you are Buff fan, though, you are hanging your hat on USC turning the ball over (Trojans 123rd in the nation in that category), then getting frustrated (107th in the nation in penalties);

— This will be USC’s first day game at Colorado since 2002;

— USC has had only 11 lettermen from the state of Colorado, including four from Boulder-Fairview: LB Joe Barry; OT Tony Boselli; C Chris Foote; and FB Scott Lockwood.


Pac-12 Notes … 

— No. 9 Washington is taking on Stanford Friday night (8:30 p.m., MT, FS1). The Huskies lead the all-time series, by the slimmest of margins, 42-41-4;

— No. 19 Washington State plays at Utah Saturday afternoon (3:30 p.m., MT, Pac-12 Networks). The all-time series is tied, 7-7;

— The Pac-12 has six of the top 24 rushers in the nation: No. 1 – Bryce Love, Stanford; No. 3 – Kahlil Tate, Arizona; No. 7 – Phillip Lindsay, Colorado; No. 13 – Royce Freeman, Oregon; No. 14 – Ronald Jones II, USC; No. 24 – Myles Gaskin, Washington;

— Washington and Washington State both control their own destinies for the Pac-12 North title, while Stanford will need to beat Washington and hope Washington then beats Washington State … In the South, if USC wins either against Colorado or UCLA, the Trojans will win the division;

Records set last weekendDante Pettis set an FBS career record with his ninth punt return for a  touchdown … Washington State quarterback Luke Falk became the all-time Pac-12 leading passer (13,806) … Arizona quarterback Kahlil Tate set a Pac-12 season-rushing record for a quarterback, with 1,087 (in case you were wondering, CU quarterback Darian Hagan had 2,007 career rushing yards (1988-91).

Answer to the trivia question: The five USC running backs who have won the Heisman trophy: Mike Garrett; O.J. Simpson; Charles White; Marcus Allen; and Reggie Bush (though the Bush award was later surrendered). The two non-running back Trojans to win the Heisman trophy? Quarterbacks Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart.



2 Replies to “Friday Fast Facts”

  1. These rankings pretty much sum up the entire season:
    rushing defense (103rd; 199.3 ypg.); total defense (102nd; 439.4 ypg.); and quarterback sacks allowed (113th; 3.1 per game).
    Hopefully someone on Defense comes to make some plays on Saturday

  2. Kahlil Tate is #3 in rushing in the nation already?! Wow.

    In terms of this game: I see no reason why USC should ever even attempt a pass against CU. But coaches can be oddly dumb and set in their ways, demanding that they have “offensive balance” and blah blah blah.

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